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Sept. 27: Among country’s schlock-slayers of the mid-1980s, Randy Travis stands tall. “On The Other Hand” is one of the seminal records of the genre’s neotraditionalist strain, even if getting there required two bites at the apple.

Travis (nee Randy Traywick, a one-time juvenile delinquent from North Carolina) had met rejection when he first shopped his sound in Nashville in the early ’80s. The labels told him he was too country, at a time Music Row was drowning in watered-down disco and “Urban Cowboy” influences. His manager and future wife, Lib Hatcher, hired him as a cook and singer at the Nashville Palace nightclub she ran.

By 1985, he had signed with Warner Bros. Nashville. High hopes surrounded his first single, the stone-country ballad “On The Other Hand” released that summer, but it barely cracked the Billboard Top 70. After his second effort — the also old-sounding honky-tonker “1982” — reached No. 6., Warners decided to try again in 1986 with “On The Other Hand.” And it paid off, becoming his first chart-topper and helping make Travis’ “Storms Of Life” album perhaps the most successful debut of the decade.

“On The Other Hand,” written by veteran tunesmiths Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, is a bona fide classic. Sixteen years ago today, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame added Schlitz, honoring him for a body of work that also includes such country classics as “The Gambler,” “When You Say Nothing at All,” “Forever and Ever, Amen,” and “One Promise Too Late.”

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